An influential member, perhaps minister, of some early church, censured by John for his jealous ambition, and his violent rejection of the best Christians, 3Jo 1:9-10.
Jove-nourished, rebuked by John for his pride (3Jo 1:9). He was a Judaizer, prating against John and his fellow-labourers "with malicious words" (7).
3Jo 1:9, loving to have the preeminence" through ambition. A Judaizer, who opposed the missionaries when preaching grace to the Gentiles, see 3Jo 1:7. He "prated against" John and the orthodox "with malicious words"; he "received not" John, by not receiving with love the brethren whom John recommended (Mt 10:40). His influence was so great that he "cast out" of the church such as were disposed to receive them. But Neander thinks that the missionaries were Christian Jews who "took nothing of the Gentiles" (3Jo 1:7), in contrast to the Jews who elsewhere abused ministers' right of maintenance (2Co 11:22; Php 3:2,5,19); and that Diotrephes stood at the head of an ultra-Pauline party of anti-Jewish tendency, forerunners of Marcion. This accounts for Diotrephes' domineering opposition to the missionaries and to John, whose love combined with truth sought to harmonize the various elements in the Asiatic churches.
Demetrius is praised as of the opposite spirit to Diotrephes; as the former was to be followed, so the latter to be shunned (3Jo 1:11-12). Perhaps Diotrephes as the local bishop simply resented the interference of John's apostolic legates as an infringement of his personal rights. For whereas in the 2nd Epistle of John corruption of doctrine is spoken of as disqualifying one from the hospitality of the church, in this 3rd Epistle no hint is given of erroneous doctrine; but only of Diotrephes' "love of preeminence."
Diotrephes and the presbyters influenced by him (whether as their bishop or not) treated the apostle's messengers as persons claiming an authority derogatory to his own. But John (3Jo 1:10) uses language implying his own unquestionable power of restraining Diotrephes's "prating" opposition: such as none but an apostle could properly have employed, an indirect confirmation of the Johannine authorship of the epistle.
A person, otherwise unknown, who is introduced in 3 John (3Jo 1:9-10) as ambitious, resisting the writer's authority, and standing in the way of the hospitable reception of brethren who visited the Church.
One in the church, otherwise unknown, who loved to have the pre-eminence: he refused to receive certain brethren, and excommunicated others. 3Jo 1:9. Thus early was 'clericalism' manifested in the church.